Marathons for the Ultra Adventurous

Just in case you were growing bored of regular marathons in and around the Toronto-area, here are the world’s top ultra-marathons to test human limits, both physical and mental, some in smouldering temperatures to boot.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece


Pay: € 450 – There are some requirements to meet in order to qualify

Be prepared to: Run the 153 mile course from Athens to Sparta that the infamous messenger, Pheidippedes, ran in 490 B.C. The course itself is not particularly extreme and it takes place in September, but the real challenge is finishing it in the 36 hour time limit.

Don’t forget your: Fast tempo pace

Do it for the: History and the bragging rights – maybe even incorporate this race into a European getaway!

Jungle Ultra

Pay: $4,041 CAD

Be prepared to: run a grueling 230 kilometers of Peruvian jungle trails across 70 rivers and 3,200 meters of elevation changes in the Amazon Rainforest

Careful of the: 100% humidity

Don’t forget your: 35 items listed on the race’s mandatory packing list, including 30 tablets of paracetemol, one box of water purification tablets, and two scalpel blades

Do it for: the free shirt included in your race entry fee


Marathon des Sables

Pay: $7,274 CAD

Be prepared to: spend the month of May running 241 kilometers in a six-stage race across the Sahara Desert, with temperatures varying between 43C in the day and 10C at night

Careful of the: hot sand scalding your exposed skin in dust storms

Don’t forget your: extra running shoes. Your feet will change at least two shoe sizes from swelling during the race

Do it for the: sunburn

New York City

New York City

Self-Transcendence 3100

Pay: n/a — by invitation only

Be prepared to: participate in the world’s longest footrace, running around the same block in Queens, NYC over 5,649 times over 52 days straight, totalling 3,100 miles, the equivalent of 4,989 kilometers

Careful of the: psychological effects of the monotony, boredom, repetitiveness

Don’t forget your: I love NY t-shirt and to explore the city in your free time

Do it for the: spiritual transcendence that Sri Chinmoy believed ultra-running brings


Jungle Marathon

Pay: $5,051 CAD

Be prepared to: hurl yourself through the gnarliest terrain—steeps, rivers, and deadly wildlife—in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest and on the planet. And answer an enthusiastic yes to the questions on its website: “Can you cope with temperatures of 40C? Humidity of 99%? Swamp crossings where anacondas lurk?” And that’s to say nothing of having to run 254 kilometers over a six stage race, too

Careful of the: blisters

Don’t forget your: death wish

Do it for the: chance to get a lot of likes on social media when you take a selfie with that anaconda



Pay: $1,547 CAD

Be prepared to: Begin the run in Death Valley, California in smouldering 50C at 85m below sea level, then run over sand and across three mountain ranges, totalling 217 kilometers and including an 2,438m altitude change at Mt. Whitney

Careful of the: competition. With entry capped at 90 runners, only the world’s best can step up to the start line

Don’t forget your: stopwatch. Entrants have only 48 hours to complete the race.

Do it for the: glory of receiving a coveted Badwater 135 belt buckle upon finishing and joining celebrity finishers like Dean Karnazes